Clinical Trials for Pancreatic Cancer
Information on currently open pancreatic cancer clinical trials can be found by clicking on the links below.
- Cancer Help database
- UK Clinical Trials Gateway
- European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (European trials)
If you have questions about trials, or inclusion in trials speak to your specialist nurse or oncologist, who will be able to let you know which trials are currently being undertaken in your specialist centre and whether you would be eligible to participate.
What are clinical trials?
Trials are common in medicine and are the means by which knowledge progresses. There are three (clinical) stages a drug (or other treatments) passes through before it becomes available as an accepted treatment. Before a drug can be assessed in a trial there will have been many years of development in research laboratories, the initial results of which suggest that there is a potential theoretical benefit to using the drug in patients.
Phase I trials:
This type of trial is the first time that a drug has been given in humans. It is largely a study of how well the drug is tolerated and what side effects occur. Most drugs have been shown to be safe and well tolerated in animal studies, and the study often starts at a very low dose, and when this is shown to be well tolerated, the dose is increased until the optimal balance between dose and side effects is reached. At this stage there is no evidence that the new drug is better, the same or not as effective as the standard treatments.
Phase II trials:
This type of trial looks at how effective a drug is at shrinking a tumour, but does not compare if it is more or less effective that standard treatments. These trials often provide additional information on tolerance (side-effects). The aim is to assess the “response rate” and to provide information to ensure that the subsequent phase III trial is designed appropriately and includes sufficient numbers of patients to reach a conclusion whether the new drug is an improvement on the current standard of care.
Phase III trials
These are the most important trials but also the most difficult to run. They often require a very large number of patients (as differences between treatments may be small but significant) and involve many specialist units and even international cooperation. In these trials, treatment is allocated randomly to either what is the current best proven treatment, or to the new drug or combination of drugs. At this stage there is still no evidence that the new drug is better, the same or not as effective as the established treatment. Benefit may be through better disease control or a better side effect profile. At the end of the trial the results are analysed and a conclusion reached which may show no benefit or may result in a change in what is considered best proven treatment.
If you have questions about trials, or inclusion in trials speak to your specialist nurse or oncologist, who will be able to let you know what trials are currently being undertaken in your specialist centre.
How to take part in a clinical trial
Treatment opinions can differ when new (and unproven) treatments are being tested as part of a clinical trial. Most regional pancreatic centres will be involved in research trials, but the clinical trials offered may be different from one centre to another.
You should remember that a trial is being carried out because the benefit of the treatment is unknown (it may be better, the same, or sometimes not as good as the standard treatment). It may be worth asking your medical team if there is a pancreatic cancer clinical trial operating in your specialist unit that you may be eligible for.
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Information Product No. PCA0031v1 | Published: 16/03/2015 | Last Updated: 11/01/2018 | Next Review Due: 16/03/2018